Rome, 12-23 November 1999
Report on Progress in the
Revision of the
REPORT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ON THE STATUS OF NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE REVISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING ON PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FIRST MEETING OF THE CHAIRMAN'S CONTACT GROUP (ROME, 20-24 SEPTEMBER 1999)
1. The International Undertaking was adopted by the 1983 FAO Conference, as Resolution 8/83. It was the first comprehensive instrument on plant genetic resources. It seeks to "ensure that plant genetic resources of economic and/or social interest, particularly for agriculture, will be explored, preserved, evaluated and made available for plant breeding and scientific purposes". It is monitored by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, of which 160 countries and the European Community are currently members; 113 countries1 have adhered to the Undertaking.
2. When the Undertaking was adopted, eight countries2 recorded reservations. These were withdrawn, following a number of agreed interpretations, embodied in Conference Resolutions. They aim to achieve and maintain a balance between the new products of biotechnology (commercial varieties and breeders' lines), on the one hand, and farmers' varieties and wild material on the other, together with the interests of developed and developing countries, by balancing the rights of breeders (formal innovators) and farmers (informal innovators). Resolution 4/89 recognized that Plant Breeder's Rights, as provided for by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), were not inconsistent with the Undertaking, and simultaneously recognized Farmers' Rights, which were defined in Resolution 5/89. Farmers' Rights were endorsed in order to ensure full benefits to farmers, and to allow farmers to participate fully in the benefits derived from the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Resolution 3/91 recognized the sovereign rights of nations over their genetic resources and agreed that Farmers' Rights would be implemented through an international fund for plant genetic resources. These resolutions are now annexed to the International Undertaking.
3. The 1991 Conference, which endorsed Resolution 3/91, in recognizing "the important consensus reached on a number of delicate issues such as sovereignty over plant genetic resources, access to breeders' and farmers' materials and implementation of Farmers' Rights through an international fund", also recognized that "other relevant matters, such as conditions of access to plant genetic resources and the nature and size of the fund, needed to be further discussed and negotiated in the light of the decisions on funding mechanisms and access to biodiversity of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development" (UNCED).
4. In adopting the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, countries also adopted Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Final Act which recognized that access to ex situ collections not acquired in accordance with the Convention, and Farmers' Rights, were outstanding matters which the Convention had not addressed, for which solutions should be sought within FAO's Global System on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, of which the International Undertaking is the corner-stone. In June 1992, UNCED called for the strengthening of the FAO Global System and its adjustment in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as for the realization of Farmers' Rights.
5. At its Twenty-seventh Session, Conference accordingly adopted Resolution 7/93, which requested the Director-General to provide a forum for negotiation among governments for:
6. Negotiations began at the Commission's First Extraordinary Session in November 1994, and have continued at three regular and four further extraordinary sessions. Donor governments have provided extra-budgetary resources for this process, as needed, including to facilitate the participation of delegations from developing countries.
7. At its Fifth Session, in 1993, the Commission had noted that the technical and financial needs to ensure conservation and to promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, need to be determined and quantified. It therefore decided that this should be done through the preparation of a rolling Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Commission stated that "by financing the Global Plan of Action, through the International Fund, and other funding mechanisms, as foreseen in Resolution 3/91, the international community would contribute to the practical realization of Farmers' Rights".
8. In a process parallel to the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking, the Commission therefore convened the Leipzig International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, in June 1996, where 150 countries adopted the Global Plan of Action, which had been prepared through a country-driven process. In adopting the Leipzig Declaration, these countries undertook to honour their commitments and take the steps necessary to implement the Global Plan of Action. The Declaration also stated that it was important to complete the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources.
9. Article 8 of the current Composite Draft Text of the International Undertaking covers the Global Plan of Action.
10. Progress in the negotiations has be regularly reported to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which has repeatedly stressed its support. In Decision II/15, the Conference of the Parties in 1995 recognized the special nature of agricultural biodiversity, its distinctive features and problems needing distinctive solutions, and declared its support for the development of the Global Plan of Action, through the Leipzig International Technical Conference, and for the revision of the Undertaking. In Decision III/11, in 1996, the Conference of the Parties stated that it was willing, should the FAO Conference so wish, for the revised International Undertaking to take the form of a protocol to the Convention. The Convention's Secretariat has participated in the negotiating process as an observer, and contributed to the debates.
11. The Conference received a progress report on the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources at its Twenty-eighth Session, in 1995.5 On this occasion, by Resolution 3/95, the mandate of the Commission was broadened to cover all components of biological diversity of interest to food and agriculture; the Conference agreed that the broadening should be in a step-by-step process, "and that the broadening must not interfere with the ongoing negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources and the preparation of the Fourth International Technical Conference". At its Twenty-ninth Session, in 1997, the Conference, by Resolution 1/97, both welcomed the Global Plan of Action, and called upon Members "to continue negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources in a constructive spirit of compromise" and to finalize the negotiations as soon as possible.
12. In November 1998, the Chairman of the Commission, Ambassador Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela), reported6 to the Hundred and Fifteenth Session of the Council that, despite considerable progress, "Members' and Regions' positions on certain issues remained distinct and distant", and that the Commission had therefore mandated him to hold consultations, in order to assess the situation. The Council supported his proposal to convene an Informal Meeting of a Group of Experts, who, although attending in their personal capacity, would represent the various Regions and positions, in order to help him identify areas of possible compromise, and prepare Chairman's draft elements for relevant articles, before requesting the Director-General to convene a further negotiating session. The Council supported his proposal, and requested him to report to it on further progress in the negotiations in June 1999.
13. The Chairman reported to the Council, at its Hundred and Sixteenth Session in June 1999, that the Informal Expert Meeting, which had been held in Montreux, Switzerland, in January 1999, had enabled him to draw up a series of Chairman's Elements, which reflected a broad consensus. He also reported that the Commission, at its Eighth Regular Session in April 1999, where considerable progress had been made, had decided to use these Elements as the basis for subsequent negotiations. Noting that countries appeared to have the political will to reach a broad consensus, the Council endorsed the mandate that the Commission had given to the Chairman, to convene (in consultation with the Director-General, and subject to the availability of funds) meetings of the Chairman's Contact Group that had been established to facilitate the negotiations,7 as well as an Extraordinary Session of the Commission to adopt the final text. The Council also urged donors to make adequate funds available in order to move forward as rapidly as possible, and "appealed to countries to show flexibility and a spirit of compromise and to maintain and increase the momentum so that the revised Undertaking might, at the latest, be submitted to the Hundred and Nineteenth Session of the Council in November 2000.
14. It recommended that a report on progress in the negotiations be considered by the Conference at its Thirtieth session in November 1999. That is the purpose of the present report.
15. The First Inter-sessional Meeting of the Chairman's Contact Group was convened from 20 to 24 September 1999. The Government of Japan provided financial assistance for the convening of the meeting. The Governments of Germany, Norway and Sweden assisted the participation of developing countries in the negotiations. Sweden and the United Kingdom have also already announced contributions for later meetings. The estimated funding needs for the negotiating process during 1999 and 2000, as well as information on moneys already announced (from which the Contact Group Meeting was financed), is given in Annex 2 to this document.
16. The Chairman's Report on the meeting is in Annex 1 to this document.
1. In June 1999, The Hundred and Sixteenth Session of the Council, in endorsing the Report of the Eighth Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, requested me to report to the Thirtieth Session of the Conference on progress in the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity.
2. I reported to the Council on that occasion that there had been considerable progress in the negotiations during the first half of 1999, beginning with the Montreux Meeting in January, as a result of which I had been able to draw up the "Chairman's Elements", reflecting the consensus reached there on a number of previously intractable issues. (The Chairman's Elements are appended to my present report). In April 1999, the Eighth Session of the Commission decided that these Chairman's Elements would be the basis for further negotiations, and made important progress in negotiating the text of a number of articles, in particular, Article 15, Farmers' Rights. In order to maintain and increase the momentum, the Commission also established a Chairman's Contact Group, and mandated me (in consultation with the Director-General, and subject to the availability of funds) to convene meetings of the Contact Group, as well as an Extraordinary Session of the Commission to adopt the final text of the revised Undertaking, with the aim of submitting the revised Undertaking, at the latest, to the Hundred and Nineteenth Session of the Council, in November 2000.
3. I accordingly convened the first Inter-sessional Meeting of the Contact Group from 20 to 24 September 1999. The Government of Japan generously supported the organization of the meeting, and the Governments of Germany, Sweden and Norway assisted the participation of developing countries in the negotiations.
4. The Contact Group agreed to focus its negotiations on Article 14, Benefit-sharing in the Multilateral System, on the basis of a text submitted by developing countries, containing sub-articles on: Exchange of information; Access to and transfer of technology; Capacity-building; and the Sharing of monetary benefits on commercialization.
5. Consensus was reached on the text of the Sub-article, Exchange of information. Large parts of the Sub-article on Access to and transfer of technology, which has implications for intellectual property rights, remain in brackets. Widely acceptable compromises are likely to be reached in future negotiations in the context of addressing other relevant articles.
6. In relation to the Sub-article on the Sharing of monetary benefits on commercialization, very important concepts were discussed and new, creative ideas were put forward. It was largely recognized that there is a link between the income deriving from the commercial use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the sharing of benefits, which needs to be reflected in the Article. There was not, however, sufficient time during the meeting to review and revise the text. It was accordingly agreed to keep in brackets the developing country text, which includes alternative or complementary proposals, based on the "user pays" principle (a percentage of the value of crops from materials protected by intellectual property rights) and the "ability to pay" principle (for example, the United Nations' Scale of Assessments), and that the Chairman should note as follows:
"For the first time, member countries held a very rich and constructive debate on this crucial issue. A number of countries and groups of countries stated that they were considering the issue very seriously, and committed themselves to present to the next meeting of the Contact Group modalities to give practical expression to the fair and equitable sharing of commercial benefits, and the possibility of involving the private sector."
7. Another Sub-Article of Article 14 concerns the recognition by Parties that the ability to fully implement the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (which was adopted by 150 countries at the Leipzig International Technical Conference in 1996, in order to determine and quantify the technical and financial needs to ensure conservation and to promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, in a fair and equitable manner) will depend largely on the implementation of Article 14 and of the Undertaking's funding strategy. Other Sub-articles concern the flow of benefits arising from the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to farmers; and the role of the Governing Body of the revised Undertaking in establishing policy and criteria for assistance under the agreed funding strategy.
8. In the light of the very constructive atmosphere during the meeting of the Contact Group, it appears that the political will exists to bring these important negotiations to a successful conclusion, so that the revised Undertaking may be submitted to the Hundred and Nineteenth Session of the Council in November 2000. There was a broad consensus among countries present that a second meeting of the Contact Group should be held in early 2000, which I would expect to focus on funding and the crops to be covered by the Multilateral System. A third meeting could then harmonize articles and prepare the text for adoption at an extraordinary session of the Commission, probably in July 2000, for submission to the Committee on Constitutional Matters in October, and the Council.
9. Further extra-budgetary resources will need to be mobilized for these meetings, particularly for their preparation and running.
10. During the meeting of the Contact Group, it was noted that the Undertaking is at a cross-roads where agriculture, the environment and trade meet, and that a number of related processes, in forums where the agricultural community has limited influence, are adding to the pressures for the negotiations to come to a rapid and successful conclusion. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity itself, and in particular its work on access and benefit-sharing; and the World Trade Organization, where the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights will be reviewed next year. These are larger, more general processes, with different priorities. But decisions made in these forums may affect food security and agricultural development, by conditioning access to and the use of plant genetic resources essential for food and agriculture. It is therefore urgent and important that the agricultural sector finds specific solutions to its needs in relation to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in the context of the current negotiations, preferably before decisions are taken elsewhere.
Chairman of the Commission on
Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
APPENDIX TO THE CHAIRMAN'S REPORT:
CHAIRMAN'S ELEMENTS DERIVED FROM
THE MONTREUX MEETING
(19-22 January 1999)
1. Scope: Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).
2. Objectives: Conservation and use of PGRFA, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of PGRFA, in harmony with the CBD, for sustainable agriculture and food security.
3. National commitments towards conservation and sustainable use, national programmes integrated into agriculture and rural development policies.
4. Multilateral System, including components for facilitated access and benefit-sharing.
- A list of crops, established on the criteria of food security and interdependence, and
- The collections of the IARCs, on terms to be accepted by the IARCs.
- To minimize transaction costs, obviate the need to track individual accessions, and ensure expeditious access, in accordance with applicable property regimes.
- Plant genetic resources in the multilateral system may be used in research, breeding and/or training, for food and agriculture only. For other uses (chemical, pharmaceutical, non-food and agricultural industrial uses, etc.), mutually agreed arrangements under the CBD will apply.
- Access for non-Parties shall be in accordance with terms to be established in the IU.
Equitable and fair sharing of benefits
- Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of PGRFA, inter alia, through:
- transfer of technology,
- the exchange of information, and
taking into account the priorities in the rolling GPA, under the guidance of the Governing Body.
- Benefits should flow primarily, directly and indirectly, to farmers in developing countries, embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA.
- Information system(s).
- PGRFA networks.
- Partnership in research and technology development.
5. Farmers' rights
- Recognition of the enormous contribution that farmers of all regions of the world, particularly those in the centres of origin and crop diversity, have made and will continue to make for the conservation and development of plant genetic resources which constitute the basis of food and agriculture production throughout the world.
- The responsibility for realizing Farmers' Rights, as they relate to PGRFA, rests with national governments. In accordance with their needs and priorities, each Party should, as appropriate, and subject to its national legislation, take measures to protect and promote Farmers' Rights, including:
- the right to use, exchange, and, in the case of landraces and varieties that are no longer registered, market farm-saved seeds;
- protection of traditional knowledge;
- the right to equitably participate in benefit-sharing;
- the right to participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA.
6. Financial resources
Commitment to a funding strategy for the implementation of the IU, which includes:
- budget and contributions to manage the operations of the Governing Body/Secretariat etc. (Some of their activities could be delegated.);
- agreed and predictable contributions to implement agreed plans and programmes, in particular in developing countries, from sources such as:
- CGIAR, GEF, plus ODA, IFAD, CFC, NGOs, etc., for project funding
- Country contributions
- Private sector
- Other contributions.
- national allocations to implement national PGRFA programmes, according to national priorities.
- priority will be given to implementation of the rolling GPA, in particular in support of Farmers' Rights in developing countries.
7. Legally-binding instrument
- Governing Body,
- Policy direction, and adoption of budgets, plans and programmes,
- Monitoring the implementation of the IU,
- Periodically reviewing, and, as necessary, updating and amending the elements of the IU and its annexes,
8. Provisions for amending the International Undertaking and updating and revising its annexes.
1. After consultation with the Chairman of the Commission, regarding the negotiating programme in 1999 and 2000, FAO contacted donors in June 1999 to seek extra-budgetary funds for up to three meetings of the Contact Group and an extraordinary session of the Commission, for the holding of meetings, and to support the participation of developing countries in the negotiations, as follows:
|Estimated Costs of a meeting of the Contact Group|
|- Meeting costs||153,300|
|- Project servicing costs (meeting costs only): 6%||9,198|
|- Developing Country Participation||87,500|
|Estimated Costs of an extraordinary session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture|
|- Meeting costs||301,200|
|- Project servicing costs (meeting costs only): 6%||18,072|
|- Developing Country Participation||227,500|
|Total Estimated Costs in 1999 and 2000|
|- Three Contact Group Meetings||749,994|
|- One Extraordinary Session of the Commission||546,772|
|Total Meeting Costs (including project servicing costs)||806,766|
|Total Developing Country Participation||490,000|
2. The following funds had been made available by mid-September 1999:
The First Meeting of the Chairman's Contact Group (Rome, 20-24 September 1999), was financed from these commitments. It should be noted that most of the remaining funds are destined for support for the participation of developing countries, and that there are not yet adequate funds for the preparation and holding of a further meeting.
1 Including two countries not members of FAO: Liechtenstein and Russia.
2 Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
3 While the Convention on Biological Diversity covers all types of biological diversity, the scope of the Undertaking is limited to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
4 This formula, adopted after careful negotiations, although limited to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, is not limited only to ex situ collections not addressed by the Convention.
5 C 95/INF/19-SUP.1.
6 CL 115/13.
7 Angola, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, European Community, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
8 Moneys remaining from earlier commitments.
9 New commitment.
10 New commitments and moneys remaining from earlier commitments.
11 Moneys remaining from earlier commitments.
12 US$ 48,500 of which available from January 2000. New commitments and moneys remaining from earlier commitments.
13 US$16,000 before end March 2000, and US$ 48,000 from April 2000. New commitment.